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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Designing for a Circular Economy (fusion online) (EFIE11150)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryImplementing a more circular economy requires disrupting the current way we design our world across all industries: from individual products to whole systems. This course will combine design thinking and the opportunities to design for a circular economy, minimising waste and maximising resources. Through case studies and with hands-on experimentation, you will examine the current 'linear' design practices in multiple industries and consider alternative circular design opportunities.
Course description Design sits prominently at the core of a circular economy. CE requires us to reconsider and redesign everything from commonplace products, their underlying business models, to the future infrastructures of our cities, many of which currently rely upon linear systems that have lasted for centuries. Design thinking is a highly participatory process that involves people in addressing complex problems such as how we design for a circular world. Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process, which helps to identify future customer needs, challenges existing assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions. This course will encourage critical and creative approaches to a circular way of designing and will combine designing thinking with CE practice.

Tools such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, materials innovation, and biomimicry mean design ambitions are limited only by our imagination. This course will challenge students to look for circular design solutions that are not only regenerative for our planet, but also solutions that are socially, culturally and economically nourishing for future lifestyles.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - Online Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities. Students should note that their interactions may be recorded and live-streamed. There will, however, be options to control whether or not your video and audio are enabled.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 8, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 1, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 6, Fieldwork Hours 2, Other Study Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 79 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Other Study: Scheduled Group-work Hours (hybrid online/on-campus) - 2
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative Assessment:

The course will be assessed by means of the following assessment components:

Object Re-Design Part 1: Illustration/Diagram (70%)

Utilising an 'object autopsy'/disassembly diagram/exploded view of an object, illustrate how an object can be made/recreated utilising design thinking and circular design. This assessment is designed to give students a newfound appreciation for the hidden, linear complexity of often seemingly simple products. It allows for alternative material choices, simplification of design, etc. Assessment will include notes on material choice, opportunities for design interventions, and illustrate the student's understanding of circular design. Assessment deadline: 4 weeks post-intensive or during semester exam period, depending on when the course is scheduled.

Object Re-Design Part 2: Reflective Piece (30%)

Essay/blog: 500-700 words. Reflect on the challenges of circular design for the object chosen. Does the object need to exist? Are there alternatives to ownership of the object? Did design thinking principles challenge your existing assumptions of the object and help you redefine the linear problem(s) embedded in the way it is currently made? Assessment deadline: 4 weeks post-intensive or during semester exam period, depending on when the course is scheduled.

Students will be given an online platform to share their finished illustrations and reflections (if they choose to), creating an online gallery/exhibition. Potential for this to become a physical exhibition in EFI.
Feedback Formative feedback will be given to students throughout the course regarding their choice of object for the final assessment. Students will be mentored and given opportunities to discuss their choice.

Peer and course organiser feedback (informal) will be given via the post-intensive, student-led critique session for draft ideas of their chosen object for assessment.

Summative feedback will be provided for the final assessment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Apply design thinking methods to complex problems.
  2. Creatively analyse design systems and objects from a design thinking perspective.
  3. Demonstrate originality in applying circular design to a linear object/system.
  4. Identify and critique circular design.
Reading List

Selected chapters from Designing for the Circular Economy (2018) Ed. Martin Charter. Taylor & Francis Group.
- Ch6 'Why Asia Matters: Circular Economy in Japan, China, and Taiwan', Ichin Cheng
- Ch8 'Circular Thinking in Design: reflections over 25 years' experience', Frank O'Connor
- Ch14 'Design for Product Integrity in a Circular Economy', Conny Bakker, et. al.

Liedtka, Jeanne, Hold, Karen & Jessica Eldridge (2021). Chapter 1: 'How Design Shapes Us as We Shape Designs (Design Thinking)'. Experiencing Design: the Innovator's Journey. Columbia University Press.

Liedka, Jeanne (2018) 'Why Design Thinking Works'. Harvard Business Review.

McDonough, William & Braungart, Michael (2002) Excerpts from: Cradle to Cradle: remaking the way we make things. North Point Press.


Camacho-Otero, Juana et. al. (2020) 'Consumers in the Circular Economy'. Handbook of the Circular Economy. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Criado Perez, Caroline (2019) Selected chapters from: Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. Chatto & Windus Publishing.

Daae, Johannes, Chamberlin, Lucy & Boks, Casper (2018) 'Dimensions of Behaviour Change in the context of Designing for a Circular Economy'. The Design Journal, 21:4, 521-541.

McLellan, Todd (2019) Things Come Apart 2.0: A Teardown Manual of Modern Living. Thames & Hudson.

Schlossberg, Tatiana (2019) Inconspicuous Consumption: the environmental impact you don't know you have. Grand Central Publishing.

You, Siming (2022) Self-selected chapters from: Waste-to-Resource System Design for Low-Carbon Circular Economy. Elsevier.

Listen / Watch:

Selected episodes from 'The Circular Economy Show' podcast, by Ellen MacArthur Foundation, including: 'New Materials for a Circular Economy'; 'Redesigning for the Future', and 'How to Use Creativity to Find Solutions'.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research & Enquiry (Problem Solving):
- Identify and evaluate options in order to solve complex problems

Communication (Written):
- Be able to communicate complex ideas and critiques in writing.

Personal Effectiveness (Team Working):
- An ability to work with people from a range of cultures and backgrounds.

Personal Effectiveness (Enterprise):
- Ability to demonstrate an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking.
KeywordsEFI,Level 11,PG,Circular Economy,Design Thinking,Sustainable Materials
Course organiserProf Chris Speed
Tel: (0131 6)51 5747
Course secretaryMiss Veronica Silvestre
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